ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Three mortar shells landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone Thursday overnight, just after midnight local time, the Iraqi military confirmed in a statement on Friday.
The mortars landed on an “abandoned lot,” resulting in “no casualties or physical damage,” the statement said.
A security source inside the Green Zone said the mortars landed near the Egyptian and US embassies.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which follows days of violent protests in Iraq’s oil-rich city of Basra over the lack of public services and widespread corruption in government institutions.
Sirens were heard at the US Embassy following the mortar attack, local Iraqi media outlets reported.
For the fourth day in a row, hundreds of protesters, angry about the federal government neglecting Basra’s infrastructure and the deaths of demonstrators, poured into the streets on Thursday, setting fire to many political party offices and government buildings.
The mortar attack on the Green Zone is the first in several years, as the area where Parliament, government buildings and many foreign embassies are located, is heavily guarded.
In May 2016, three mortar shells landed near the Green Zone. During anti-corruption protests led by influential Iraqi Shia, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, demonstrators breached the Green Zone twice, storming parliament and the cabinet’s offices.
Having won Iraq’s May 12 national election, Sadr is now trying to form the new government in alliance with incumbent Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi.
The Green Zone has often become a target for protesters and rebel groups since 2003, with mortar shells striking the area as the strongest means to express discontent toward the government and its institutions.
Editing by Nadia Riva